The snowflake approach to copywriting

September 5, 2012

Award-winning writer Randy Ingermanson invented the Snowflake Method which takes a scientific approach to writing fiction. The Snowflake Method involves structuring a story in the same way a ‘snowflake formula’ is used to create software, by repeatedly adding steps in a specific order. As Ingermanson explains:

“For a number of years, I was a software architect designing large software projects. I write novels the same way I write software, using the ‘snowflake metaphor’… I claim that that’s how you design a novel – you start small, then build stuff up until it looks like a story.”


This metaphor refers to starting with small, simple ideas, jotting them down and then adding details to these previous ideas to build up the story. You can also take this structured approach with copywriting.

Below is a step by step guide to apply the Snowflake Method to your next copywriting project.

1.    Write a one sentence summary of what the piece of content will be about. It could be ‘An introduction to the personalities in the customer services team’ or ‘A blog post highlighting new designers at London Fashion Week’. Take some time to really pinpoint the theme and point of the piece of content as this will be what your entire piece will be based on.

2.    Expand this sentence into a full paragraph which describes each part of the piece of content. For example, if it was a novel, in this stage you would outline the story setup, describe plot points and explain what happens at the end of the novel. When writing content, you should use step two to include everything you want to say in your piece. You could start with an overview of the opening paragraph, introduce your major points as bullet points and then include an overview of what the conclusion of your piece will be.

3.    Go back to step two and build up information on each of the points you have made. For example, if you’re writing a piece about new designers at London Fashion Week then research the designers and add details of them and their work to your piece. You could also look for quotes or links to sources to give your article depth and credibility. If you’re writing a piece about your customer services team then interview the team, ask them about themselves and build up a picture of their ‘characters’.

4.    Edit what you’ve written in step three to streamline your content and make it succinct and engaging. Discard anything irrelevant and ensure everything in the piece reflects the summary you wrote in step one. Include sub headings, lists, images and bullet points to make the text more readable.

5.    Read through your content and proofread it for errors in spelling and grammar.
There you go, in five simple steps you will have crafted a piece of content which is focused, engaging and interesting to read.

(via Pure Ink . )



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